Is DodgeBall Duo’s Departure A Harbinger For JotSpot Wunderkinder?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Founder Story, skmurphy

Barbara Darrow (Unblog) April 16 entry was by Stacy Cowley “Dodgeball Founders Defect From, Take Shots At, Google”

Google’s habit of acquiring promising startups and then disappearing them into the Googleplex Vortex is no secret — it left Blogger to languish for years, and closed Web 2.0 wunderkinds JotSpot (wikis) and Measure Map (blog traffic analytics) to new users the minute it bought them, with no word about when, or if, they’d ever reopen.

The buy and ignore habit has long irked users and pundits, but now comes a sign of dissent from within.

Two years ago, Google picked up Dodgeball, a mobile social-networking application for the always-wired set. The deal netted Google two talented Web developers, Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, who built dodgeball as part of their master’s degree work for New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

But on Friday, Crowley and Rainert loudly left Google, metaphorically flipping the bird at the company on the way out the door.

You wonder if the dodgeballers mis-read the negotiation process and didn’t get an agreement for a new product or service to be developed based on their technology. Two years is when their Google options probably vest, so if they were on an earnout it couldn’t be based on revenue that Google generated from leveraging the technology. They were in college before the acquisition so Google might just have looked like their first “real job.” The picture where they flip Google off is at “me + alex quit google. (dodgeball forever!!!!)” where they also had this to say:

So…. Alex and I quit Google on Friday.

It’s no real secret that Google wasn’t supporting dodgeball the way we expected. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us – especially as we couldn’t convince them that dodgeball was worth engineering resources, leaving us to watch as other startups got to innovate in the mobile + social space. And while it was a tough decision (and really disappointing) to walk away from dodgeball, I’m actually looking forward to getting to work on other projects again.

So, what’s next? Starting today (Monday!) I’m joining the kids at area/code who are knee-deep in building all sorts of Big Games (remember PacManhattan? ConQwest?). Alex is moving on to IconNicholson where he took a gig as a Creative Strategist focusing on mobile and emerging technologies. (And sorry, but I don’t know what Google has planned for dodgeball going forward.)

Another perspective by Jason Hahn is here “Dodgeball Founders Quit Google.”

This occurrence certainly sheds a more somber light on the idea of being bought by the almighty search engine. It seems that not even bucketfuls of money can compensate for satisfaction with a job or product, no matter who is paying you.

So far no real news on Jotspot after the acquisition by Google.

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Comments (1)

  • SKMurphy » Jotspot Emerges From The Bowels of Google

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    […] I had blogged about the Jotspot acquisition in “Jotspot Dissolves into Google Business Model” and later speculated that the “Dodgeball Duo Departure a Harbinger for Jotspot Wunderkinder” (although the earnout period still probably has eight months to run so this may still prove accurate). If Joe Kraus’ picture and his son’s lego creations weren’t splashed across one of the demo sites, it would require a vivid imagination to associate this new offering in any way with Jotspot. The acquisition–and Google’s putting any further sites on stun and current sites into limbo–triggered our search for a new wiki/workspace provider. We’ve been pleased with our selection of CentralDesktop and have built more than 100 private workspaces for use with customers since we converted. We’ve blogged about them in several different contexts and have them listed as a partner because they have become an intrinsic platform for our business. We probably don’t say enough good things about them. […]

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